Green was born in 1931 in St. Louis. In the mid-50s, he played with mid-western
rhythm and blues groups. His first important jazz work was with trumpeter Harry
"Sweets" Edison shortly afterward. In 1960, Lou Donaldson heard Green and
recommended him to Alfred Lion of Blue Note records. With a refreshing new style, he
quickly became noticed, winning the New Star guitarist from Down Beat magazine in
1962. Over the next 6 years, he recorded on over 50 albums. Green's frequent
recording with organists helped legitimize the organ, guitar, drum trio. He recorded
with many great musicians including Herbie Hancock, McCoy Tyner, Elvin Jones, Yusef
Lateef, Hank Mobley, Larry Young, Joe Henderson.
In the late 60s and early 70s, Green's music shifted to the more popular commercial funk, groove-oriented fusion jazz that was the rage of the day. He did hard-grooving covers of popular music. While this music doesn't have the depth or sophistication of his early work, these works live on today in the samples of modern hip-hop artists. Green's album Alive is one of the most sampled albums ever. Grant Green died in 1979.
While Green isn't necessarily one of the more famous jazz guitarist ever, he is on my list of Dudes I Dig for one simple reason (other than "I dig him"): for the longest time, I really disliked jazz guitar, no matter how good the musician was playing it. Once, I ordered a Dexter Gordon CD from BMG and they accidentally sent me "The Best of Grant Green, Vol. 1" from Blue Note. (the 2 records varied by 1 digit on their order form). Before I sent it back, I decided to give it a listen, since I really like Tyner and Jones (I loved their music from John Coltrane records). I fell in love with Green's sound, and he opened up jazz guitar for me, and because of him, I now appreciate guitarist such as John McGlaughlin, Pat Metheny, and Al DeMeola.
To learn more about Grant Green, check out this site:
Grant Green - a sharp fan's site.